Thu May 24, 2007 2:24PM EDT
HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe police on Thursday extended a ban on political
rallies and protests in Harare which the country's embattled opposition has
likened to "a state of emergency."
President Robert Mugabe's government imposed a 3-month ban against rallies
and demonstrations in February over fears of an opposition uprising in the
face of a deepening economic crisis.
The Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) reported that police authorities
had extended the ban by another month in central Harare and in several
volatile townships in the capital "in the interest of preserving peace and
Government and opposition officials were not immediately available for
comment. But ZBC said police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena had warned that
police would be tough with anyone who breaks the law.
The main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) is still waiting
for the courts to hear its petition against the initial ban, which it
likened to a state of emergency and came alongside a government crackdown on
Mugabe's ZANU-PF administration has routinely used riot police squads to
crush anti-government rallies, most recently on May 8 when they used rubber
batons to disperse a march by human rights lawyers protesting against the
arrest of two colleagues.
Tensions rose sharply in early March after opposition leader Morgan
Tsvangirai and dozens of other MDC members sustained serious injuries after
being arrested by police at an aborted prayer rally in Harare.
The 83-year-old Mugabe accuses the MDC of being stooges of Zimbabwe's former
colonial power Britain in an effort to oust his government as punishment for
seizing and redistributing white-owned commercial farms to landless blacks.
London denies there is such a plot, and the MDC says it is not a puppet
Critics say Mugabe has mismanaged Zimbabwe's economy and violated human
rights, sending the once-prosperous nation into a crisis marked by inflation
of more than 3,700 percent, unemployment of more than 80 percent and chronic
shortages of food and fuel.
By Alec Russell
Published: May 24 2007 19:09 | Last updated: May 24 2007 19:09
The Zimbabwean farmer looked older than his 47 years. He could barely stop
coughing, having walked 12km to catch a bus to Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second
town, to look for medicines for his daughter. The ticket had cost $Z45,000 -
barely $1 at the parallel market rate - his last remaining cash.
That morning elephants, ranging free from the Hwange National Park, in one
of the more bizarre manifestations of the lawlessness spreading across
Zimbabwe, had rampaged over his small pumpkin patch. In a minute his winter
larder was no more.
The tale of Christopher Ncube's attempts to survive as a smallholder is
grimly emblematic of the consequences of Operation Murambatsvina, or Clear
Out the Trash, the government's forced removal of hundreds of thousands of
people from urban to rural areas that began two years ago on Friday.
It also sheds light on the implosion of Zimbabwe's agriculture, once the
mainstay of the economy. Shadreck Mlambo, a senior official in the Ministry
of Agriculture, had to admit to parliament this week that only a tenth of
the required winter wheat crop had been planted.
Mr Ncube was one of many in the informal settlements around Harare and
Bulawayo who woke two years ago to the sound of policemen bashing at his
door. Within minutes he was outside with his family, as the police set light
to his shack.
Days later his town life was over. Instead he was on his way to a
five-hectare plot outside Bulawayo to start again as a peasant farmer.
He was to be a foot soldier in what President Robert Mugabe's supporters
hailed as a new agricultural army, which would plough and sow their way to a
new prosperous future.
His eyes flashed when reminded of that day - and the accompanying government
spin. "I had never farmed before," he said. "The land was not cleared. We
don't have cattle or farming implements ... the government has given us
Mr Mugabe's government said the operation was a slum-clearance aimed at
reducing disease and driving out black marketeers. The opposition Movement
for Democratic Change saw it as an attempt to undermine its strongholds,
Zimbabwe's two big towns.
The government's subsequent neglect of the evicted - estimated at between
700,000 and more than 1m - lends credence to the MDC's argument. Amnesty
International reported last year that a government rehousing programme had
provided just over 3,325 new homes. Many of them, it added, were still
Two years on Mr Ncube and his household - his wife, five children and three
Aids orphans from his dead brother's family - are still struggling to
understand rural ways.
Other evacuees echo their experiences. Edward Sibanda, a former security
guard, has an 11-acre plot in Nyamandlovu, outside Bulawayo, on what used to
be a highly profitable farm. The white farmer had to give up most of his
land six years ago when Mr Mugabe sanctioned the occupation of most of the
country's commercial farms.
Most of the plot, however - and indeed most of the expropriated part of the
farm - lies sunbaked and untended. Mr Sibanda has a few chickens, and a
scrappy vegetable patch but he too lacks tools and the know-how to feed even
his family, let alone anybody else.
The government is trumpeting a new initiative to revive agriculture. Gideon
Gono, central bank governor, is calling on local industry to build 100,000
ploughs and as many harrows, cultivators and ox carts.
In theory the equipment is to be handed out to the new smallholders.
Companies have been told to rush through orders by early next year,
conveniently for the ruling Zanu-PF, just before March's parliamentary and
With the official inflation rate at 3,779 per cent, contracts are welcome.
But businessmen have heard such talk before. "I am surprised we weren't
asked to stamp Zanu-PF on the equipment," said the chief executive of a
small manufacturing company. "While Zimbabwe could probably produce 100,000
ploughs, even if you can make them there aren't the oxen. There just isn't
the capacity to pull them."
From The Namibia Economist, 23 May
Written by Staff Reporters
The US$40 million loaned to Zimbabwe by NamPower for the rehabilitation of
Hwange power station is being kept in an off-shore account in Botswana from
where it will be directed to pay for equipment, suppliers and service
providers involved in the rehabilitation of the power station. This was said
by Paulinus Shilamba, the chief executive of NamPower, in an interview with
the Economist last week. The information thwarts speculation on whether
Zimbabwe will indeed direct the funds into the upgrading of the power
station as intended. In exchange for the money loaned, Zimbabwe is to supply
Namibia with 150 MW of electricity, guaranteed. Yet more questions and
speculations regarding the reliability of this power deal emerged this week,
just as the icy cold winter started progressing with sub-zero temperatures
recorded around the country. Concerns have been raised over NamPower's
affirmation that Hwange will start generating an unspecified amount of
energy for Namibia by December this year, much earlier than expected. The
Hwange Power Station has been on NamPower's energy development plans since
2005 but it was only going to be possible with the construction of the
Caprivi Link Inter Connector. The link is yet to be constructed.
Shilamba did not respond to questions e-mailed to his office this week. But
NamPower has earlier said, in the absence of the Caprivi Link Inter
Connector, the electricity from Zimbabwe will be routed to Namibia through
South Africa until the link is up and running. The 200/400 MW Caprivi Link
Inter Connector will connect the Zambian grid at Livingstone and to
Zimbabwe's Hwange. The plans are for it to then connect to the rest of
Namibia at Geru power station in Oshikoto region. It will comprise of the AC
network strengthening a 970-kilometre, 350 kilovolt (kV) High Voltage Direct
Current (HVDC) bipolar line and converter stations. A 220 kV AC line from
Livingstone in Zambia to the Zambezi substation in Katima Mulilo was
commissioned in September this year. Another 285-kilometre 400 kV AC
transmission line will be extended from Auas substation to Gerus and
associated substations. The project will in total cost N$2.6 billion.
Critics also question Zimbabwe's ability to provide energy when the country
itself is generating power sufficient for only four hours. Shilamba
responded that the deal gives preference to Namibia and does not take into
account the worsening power supply problems in Zimbabwe. "We gave them the
US$40 million in foreign [money]. They cannot pay that back in US-dollars so
in exchange they agreed to give us power at a cheaper rate. They just have
to do that even it means they have to experience power shortage in their
domestic market," said Shilamba.
By Tererai Karimakwenda
23 May, 2008
We have received reports that at least 16 illegal diamond miners, 4 police
officers and a horse were killed during a fight that occurred last week in
the Chiadzwa district of Manicaland. Our Mutare contact Brendon Dhliwayo
said the deaths have not been publicised and others have occurred since. The
situation in this area where diamonds were discovered last year is tense
because the government is trying to contain illegal miners who are desperate
villagers with no income. Unemployment in Zimbabwe is over 80% so many
people are surviving by finding products to sell on the black market.
According to Dhliwayo, the illegal miners want the government to allow them
to make a living by selling diamonds to any interested buyers. But the area
was cordoned off by the police last December and the Zimbabwe Mining
Development Corporation took over mining operations. Dhliwayo said top
cabinet officials and police and army details have been abusing their
positions and benefiting from the diamonds. He alleged that they send
immediate family members to collect diamonds from the illegal miners and
from the area, some coming from as far as Matabeleland. And the government
trained youth militia are being used to provide security.
Dhliwayo accused them of using brutal force to control the illegal miners.
He said they sometimes allow a few of the villagers into the fenced off area
to mine, then share the profits with them. The deaths are believed to have
occurred during a violent fight that took place about ten days ago. Dhliwayo
said another miner was shot in the knee last week and he died on the way to
A parliamentary committee has been investigating allegations against top
government officials accused of involvement in illegal mining. There are
reports that many witnesses are too scared to testify against them. The
Zimbabwe government has also been accused of selling illegal diamonds on the
international market, violating global standards that were put in place to
control the sale of minerals.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
By Tichaona Sibanda
24 May 2007
The state controlled Herald newspaper reported on Thursday that the country's
once-thriving cotton industry faces collapse and the situation is so serious
there could be no cotton next year.
The paper said the reason for the crisis is the prevalence of
side-marketing, which sees cotton growers selling their crops to
unregistered dealers instead of those they were contracted to produce for.
Seiso Moyo, a national executive member of the MDC responsible for lands and
agriculture, said it is a misrepresentation of facts to blame the shortages
of cotton on farmers who are selling to unregistered dealers. He claimed
most of the unregistered dealers are Zanu (PF) heavyweights who are hoarding
the cotton and selling it back to government at exorbitant prices.
'There is no shortage of cotton in the country. Cotton is being grown but
where it is going after being delivered is the question that needs answers.
But that should not be a surprise because all major industries in the
country are being monopolised by Zanu (PF) officials and this includes the
cotton industry,' Moyo.
Rob Jarvis, managing director of Quton Seed company is quoted by the Herald
saying around 19 000 tonnes of cotton planted this year was earmarked for
seed to ensure next years crop, but much is being sold to illegal buyers.
'Despite the fact that we have an industry body backed by government to
prevent cotton being sold to buyers who have not financed its production, it
is still happening. Now next season's crop is under threat since this year's
seed multiplication crop, specially grown to become next year's seed, is
part of this illicit trade. If this is not stopped immediately there will be
no cotton crop next year,' Jarvis said.
Moyo said the problem could be solved by strict monitoring of the movement
of cotton because most of it was being held by top government and Zanu (PF)
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
BULAWAYO, May 24 (IPS) - Judith Moyo is unable to give her child enough
food. She has to bring her 18-month-old daughter to a council clinic for
check-ups every month because of what nurses call her ''slow development''.
''I give her isitshwala leftovers from the previous night,'' 33-year-old
Moyo says as she tries to keep the child quiet. Isitshwala is a staple thick
porridge prepared from maize meal.
The fourth of the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) seeks
a two-third reduction in the deaths of children under five by 2015. But the
issues related to the first MDG, the eradication of extreme poverty and
hunger, will push the reduction of child mortality in Zimbabwe beyond the
target date of 2015.
Despite President Robert Mugabe's declaration in Zimbabwe's first MDG
progress report in 2004 that the country was achieving success in the
implementation of the goals, the continued lack of access to basic services
makes this unlikely.
The World Health Organisation's estimates for 2004 put the under-five
mortality rate in Zimbabwe at 129 per 1,000 live births. This has meant a
sharp increase since 1990 when infant mortality was estimated at 80 per
1,000 live births. In 2000, it stood at 117 per 1,000 live births.
The United Nations Children's Fund reports that while Zimbabwe saw a decline
in infant mortality in the early 1990s, numbers have risen steadily after
2000 as health delivery services declined amid growing international
Zimbabwe therefore remains one of a few countries to reverse the gains made
during the early years of independence.
Apart from Moyo, other women at the government clinic also admit that they
cannot provide enough sustenance for their newborns because of escalating
Selina Zulu makes regular visits to the clinic. She used to give her older
children, who have since finished their primary education, supplements like
peanut butter. But now she cannot do the same for her three-year-old son
because of escalating prices.
''Things have changed so fast. We have had to turn to feeding our children
food which we know is not good for them,'' she said amid nodding from other
women gathered at the clinic.
A nurse at the clinic says a number of children under five have been put on
supplementary feeding. They are getting rations from the United States
Agency for International Development (USAID).
''Many of the children have been given the anti-measles jab, but they remain
poorly fed. This is our main worry,'' says Helen Dube, a nurse monitoring
the feeding and vaccination.
Zimbabwe's economic decline has led to the breakdown of the country's health
delivery system. Health care is now characterised by acute shortages of
drugs and skilled personnel. This has affected levels of measles
immunisation, which is one of the indicators for MDG 4.
In the 2004 progress report, the Zimbabwe government promised that 90
percent of infants will be vaccinated against measles by 2015.
But Stanford Matenda, a researcher and chairperson of the National
University of Science and Technology's Journalism School in Bulawayo, says
the economic decline has made it virtually impossible for the country to
realise this goal. ''I do not see us achieving it.''
''Just recently, government acknowledged that nurses were not going to work.
The same goes for medical doctors. Children do not have access to food, care
or medication, so it will be difficult to attain these targets,'' argues
''When parents are experiencing severe economic and psychological hardships,
it will also be quite difficult for children to be healthy,'' he concludes.
Recently, Deputy Minister of Health and Child Welfare Edwin Muguti told
striking doctors that the government had no money to meet their demands for
The lack of resources to meet service delivery needs will also affect remote
rural areas. According to health officials in the western border town of
Plumtree, the measles vaccination programme has been slowed down by the
unavailability of medicine and medical personnel.
Gertrude Chisale of Plumtree Hospital's documentation centre says there has
been a steady rise in the number of deaths from measles as the government
hospital struggles with resources. ''This year alone, we have had at least
15 deaths of children under five and we expect the number to rise if the
situation continues,'' Chisale tells IPS.
''We used to have motorcycles for staff to travel to remote rural areas to
do vaccinations. This has been stopped because government says there is no
money for fuel or for the maintenance of these bikes,'' says Chisale.
Matenda hopes that international assistance will become available to help
vulnerable groups such as newborn babies.
May 24, 2007 6:00 AM
Why do African nations line up in support of such a disreputable nation?
By Brett D. Schaefer & Marian L. Tupy
Zimbabwe was recently elected to chair the U.N. Commission on
Sustainable Development (CSD), to the dismay of human-rights groups and
nations, like the United States, that would like the United Nations to take
its responsibilities seriously. This election is more than a travesty; it is
a cruel demonstration of disregard for the suffering of the people of
Zimbabwe on the part of the U.N. and those African countries that helped
Zimbabwe to the chairmanship.
The United Nations defines sustainable development as "development
that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of
future generations to meet their own needs." The CSD was established in 1992
to promote sustainable development, review implementation of various
environmental agreements, and provide policy guidance to local, national,
regional, and international levels. Explicitly noted in the documents that
the CSD is supposed to promote is the notion that "Good governance within
each country and at the international level is essential for sustainable
development" and that "Peace, security, stability and respect for human
rights and fundamental freedoms. are essential for achieving sustainable
development and ensuring that sustainable development benefits all."
Looking the world over, it is difficult to find many countries that
fail to abide by these principles to a greater degree than does Zimbabwe.
When Robert Mugabe came to power in 1980, he inherited well-developed
manufacturing and mining sectors, a competitive agricultural sector, a
thriving tourist industry, and sound infrastructure. The country has rich
mineral deposits of asbestos, chromite, coal, copper, diamonds and other
gems, gold, iron ore, nickel, and platinum. The country was rightly regarded
as one of the bright lights in Africa.
Beginning in the late 1990s, Mugabe began facing serious challenges to
his authority. In response to the growing opposition, he initiated a
ruthless, seven-year campaign to maintain political power. During that time,
Mugabe has targeted his opponents for abuse, legal harassment, and economic
punishment, and used his authority to reward allies and elicit support from
the police, the military, and other key groups. Notably, Mugabe started to
expropriate large, mostly white-owned, commercial farms. With property
rights and the rule of law severely weakened, credit and investment dried
up, sending shockwaves through an economy that was heavily reliant on
Those policies have resulted in a precipitous economic decline,
political repression, and a humanitarian crisis rivaling that in Darfur.
Over the last seven years, Professor Craig Richardson of Salem College
estimates the economy has shrunk by 40 percent, wiping out almost 60 years
of gradual economic improvements. The standard of living has dropped to
levels last seen in 1948. The World Health Organization estimates that
Zimbabwe has the world's lowest life expectancy - 34 years for women and 37
years for men.
Unemployment is at 80 percent. The currency is nearly worthless and
inflation currently exceeds 3,700 percent per year. Last week, the
black-market exchange rate for one U.S. dollar reached 40,000 Zimbabwean
The economic meltdown has led to environmental devastation. Zimbabwe,
once known for its flourishing wildlife, used to have a sophisticated
tourism industry that accounted for up to 6 percent of the country's GDP.
Hunger and lawlessness have put an end to that.
Brian Gratwicke, an Oxford-educated environmentalist and Zimbabwean
national who runs a U.S-based nature and wildlife website estimates that
"Eighty percent of 250,000 head of game that lived on privately owned
commercial farms have been poached by land invaders - often with the
encouragement of senior ZANU-PF officials who wanted to wrest control of the
farms from their rightful owners." To make matters worse, Gratwicke argues,
chronic environmental problems such as deforestation and overgrazing, water
pollution, uncontrolled fires, human-wildlife conflict, and wildlife-borne
disease are spreading through Zimbabwe.
On both environmental and development grounds, Zimbabwe is a terrible
example to the rest of Africa and the world. Electing Zimbabwe to chair the
committee charged with guiding U.N. policy in those areas is absurd.
The election of Zimbabwe to the chairmanship of the CSD cannot be dismissed
as an unfortunate aberration. The nomination of Zimbabwe to the chairmanship
was widely reported and strongly criticized by the U.S. and other countries.
Despite that criticism, the African regional group in the U.N. refused to
back away from nominating Zimbabwe. Moreover, the African group and the U.N.
have made a habit of such outrageous appointments. For instance:
Zimbabwe currently serves on the Executive Board of the World Food Program,
despite the fact that Zimbabwe, considered the breadbasket of Africa only a
decade ago, is now unable to feed itself and regularly appeals to
international programs for food aid. The primary reasons for the devastation
of Zimbabwe's once flourishing agricultural sector are the politically
motivated seizure of commercial farms, most of which were given to Mugabe's
cronies, and other anti-market economic policies.
Zimbabwe was elected to the Executive Board of the U.N. Children's Fund for
a three-year term beginning in 2008 despite the fact that, according to
UNICEF itself, one in four children in Zimbabwe are orphans. This tragic
situation is in significant part due to the policies of the Zimbabwean
government that have increased the spread of HIV/AIDS, reduced life
expectancy, and eroded the health care system.
Zimbabwe was elected to the Governing Council of the United Nations Human
Settlements Program (UN-HABITAT) for a term expiring in 2010 despite the
government's Operation Murambatsvina, which demolished informal housing and
markets and rendered 700,000 urban Zimbabweans homeless or unemployed. It is
believed that 70 percent of the urban population may have lost shelter or
employment and over 2 million (more than 15 percent of Zimbabwe's
population) are believed to have been indirectly affected by loss of
customers, employees, or markets. The government told those affected to
"return to their rural origins," even though most had no such home to which
they could return. Indeed, many had initially become homeless when the
government sanctioned the seizure of commercial farms.
The ability of Zimbabwe to routinely be elected to such privileged positions
in the U.N. is illustrative of just how little regard many states have for
the purposes of the U.N. and the influence those states have over the
decisions, elections, and activities of the organization.
This comes as little surprise to those who have followed the United Nations
and its many failures over the years. Nevertheless, it should embarrass
those governments in Africa that claim to be trying to improve the lives of
their people, enhance the quality of government across the continent, and
elevate the influence which the region is given in international fora and
the seriousness with which it is taken.
There is something fundamentally wrong when African countries feel
comfortable, and even are insistent, about putting a country like Zimbabwe
forward as a candidate for influential positions despite that country's
record of violations and abuses directly related to the position it would
assume. How can the rest of the world be comfortable giving Africa a
permanent seat on the Security Council, for instance, if the continent
cannot even rouse itself to put forward suitable candidates for lesser
- Brett D. Schaefer is Jay Kingham Fellow in International Regulatory
Affairs in the Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom, a division of the
Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies at the
Heritage Foundation and Marian L. Tupy is a policy analyst at the Cato
Institute's Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity.
By Jonga Kandemiiri
23 May 2007
Members of the newly formed Bindura Residents Association, said they are
being threatened and trailed by unknown assailants, angry at them for
starting the association.
The members said they have received anonymous phone calls, from people
accusing them of forming the association to help the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change, infiltrate Bindura, which is a ZANU-PF stronghold.
The Combined Harare Residents' Association, which the anonymous callers
allege is an opposition wing, assisted in the formation of the Bindura
Association secretary Chiedza Gadzirayi, who is also a student at Bindura
University of Science and Education, told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of VOA's
Studio 7 for Zimbabwe, that many members are afraid to leave the campus for
fear of being abducted.
Institute for War & Peace Reporting
Local relief groups complain that government pressure is compromising their
ability to feed a hungry population.
By Nonthando Bhebhe in Harare (AR No. 113, 24-May-07)
The Zimbabwean authorities have a history of controlling access to food for
political purposes. As the ongoing drought adds to the food shortages, and
the 2008 elections draw closer, the government is once again focusing its
attention on distribution.
By imposing restrictions on non-government organisations, NGOs, officials
are curbing their ability to provide food aid. And as international donor
find that their local partners are less and less able to operate freely,
there is a danger they will divert food aid to countries where it can be
During the liberation struggle in what was then Rhodesia in the Seventies,
Ian Smith's white minority regime withheld food from rural areas in an
attempt to starve out rebel guerrilla groups.
Soon after independence in 1980, the new administration of President Robert
Mugabe and his ruling ZANU-PF party again used food as a weapon against
political opponents. During the Gukurahundi campaign, in which thousands of
civilians in the Matabeleland and Midlands regions died, shops were closed
and relief aid was halted to these drought-stricken areas, just to prevent a
few hundred armed dissident fighters from accessing food.
Since 2000, when Mugabe launched a campaign to dispossess white farmers and
redistribute their farms to landless people, Zimbabwe has suffered severe
problems with agricultural production. As a result, many people are reliant
on handouts from relief agencies or the government.
As well as selective distribution through its own food aid centres, the
government has tried to influence the way international relief groups manage
In the run up to the 2002 presidential election, ZANU-PF members warned
local chiefs and headmen in some areas that they would be denied supplies of
food aid for their communities if they did not deliver an electoral victory
for Mugabe. The government also discouraged international donor
organisations from giving out food, misleading them by telling them that
Zimbabwe had had a bumper harvest.
Then in 2004, months before the crucial 2005 parliamentary election, the
authorities introduced the controversial Non-Government Organisation Bill
which restricted the activities of NGOs and human rights groups,
particularly those financed from abroad.
This attempt by Mugabe to stifle debate served its purpose, as most NGOs
were uncertain about their future and security, and many limited their
operations during that period.
As a result, an estimated 2.3 million rural people in need of food aid had
to rely completely on government assistance programmes. Food imports
arranged by the MDC were seized at the border and distributed by government.
In autumn 2006, the government lifted a ban on NGOs handing out food. But as
the country heads towards next year's make-or-break presidential and
parliamentary election, the government is again trying to control NGOs,
particularly those involved in food aid, human rights, civic education and
Local aid groups are now jittery after Information Minister Sikhanyiso
Ndlovu said all NGOs had been "deregistered" and must apply for new licenses
to operate. Later, however, the government said it had not banned NGOs but
simply put in place new policy guidelines for their registration and
Under the new regulations, NGOs now have to sign a memorandum of
understanding with the government department relevant to their specialist
area, and can be stripped of their official registration if they are deemed
to have exceeded their mandate.
Towards the end of April, Agriculture Minister Rugare Gumbo reiterated the
official line that any food aid that appeared to have political strings
attached would be blocked.
"Government will certainly sit down and decide which aid agencies or
organisations to allow assisting with food distribution," he told the United
Nations information agency IRIN. "We realise that there are organisations
bent on using aid as a political tool to enhance the interests of the
opposition, and we are not going to allow that."
The government is shipping state-subsidy grain for public distribution - but
only to ZANU-PF strongholds. Given the state Grain Marketing Board's history
of discriminatory allocation, supporters of the opposition are likely to
"Food distribution has been made political," Fambai Ngirande, spokesperson
for the National Association of NGOs, told IWPR.
"Distribution organisations have been compelled to give food only to
card-carrying members of the ruling party. These agencies have been denied
access to some areas, and told to leave the food with government
Ngirande predicted that the pressure, obstructions and surveillance NGOs now
have to endure would get worse.
"As we are heading towards 2008, part of the election strategy is to close
certain NGOs that deal with governance and human rights issues. They also
want to monitor food; and given that it is a drought year, they want to make
sure that they are the sole distributors of food aid," he said.
Zimbabwe's food crisis may get worse, as stocks of the staple food item,
maize, are said to be running out.
Domestic production of maize, sorghum and millet for the 2006-07 growing
season is forecast to be about 50 per cent of the preceding season. Cereal
production is forecast to be enough to meet only 40 to 50 per cent of
domestic consumption needs.
The United Nations Food Programme says nearly half of Zimbabwe's 13 million
people will need food aid this year, and a country which used to export food
to its neighbour would need to import two million tons of grain to get
through the year.
With no hard currency reserves, the government will almost certainly be
unable to pay for adequate grain imports - even taking hundreds of tons of
donated food into account.
Ngirabnde said most foreign-funded organisations had already significantly
reduced their aid to Zimbabwe, and given the worsening environment in which
NGOs operate, they were liable to curtail it even further; putting millions
of lives at risk.
"We are telling our members that pulling out is not the answer, as it will
make it worse for ordinary Zimbabweans," he said. "If we stop our
activities, the human rights abuses, torture and denial of food because of
political affiliation will go on. The situation demands an even greater
presence - we simply cannot afford to close down.
"Most of our organisations are funded from outside, the foreign policies of
those countries affect resources that come into Zimbabwe. If the food
distribution is not done properly, then they would rather go elsewhere where
there is also need."
Nonthando Bhebhe is a pseudonym used by a journalist in Zimbabwe
By Carole Gombakomba
24 May 2007
Zimbabwe's Parliamentary Portfolio Committees on Health and Public Service,
Labor and Social welfare, held an open meeting Thursday, to give the public
and other stakeholders an opportunity to share their views about the
proposed National Health Insurance Scheme.
The government, together with the National Social Security Authority, had
hoped to launch the insurance scheme in July, despite objections from the
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, other stakeholders and the general
public, who are concerned that the scheme would further strain Zimbabwe's
The proposed insurance scheme, NSSA officials say, will co-exist with
private medical aid schemes, and by paying only 25-percent of their current
contributions to their existing medical aid schemes, workers would receive
the same benefits offered under the current Basic Cover Medical Aid Scheme.
NSSA had argued that the current private health schemes only cover
30-percent of the workers, leaving the remaining 70-percent uninsured, and
without access to affordable treatment in the event of a health crisis.
Critics, however, said workers are already burdened with a 3% National AIDS
Levy, and argued that a further 5% deduction towards the National Health
Insurance Scheme, would leave workers poorer.
Chairman, Blessing Chebundo, of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on
Health, told reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe, that
many who attended Thursday's meeting, opposed the timing of the proposed
launch, saying the economy is worse off now, than when the scheme was first
proposed in 1991.
By Blessing Zulu
23 May 2007
The World Diamond Council, which regulates the global diamond trade, named
Zimbabwe and Venezuela as the only two countries that have failed to prove
that their diamonds are conflict free.
The chairman of the WDC, Eli Izhakoff, said while trade of conflict
diamonds, as measured by the Kimberley Process, a body that ensures diamonds
are conflict free, is on the decline, Zimbabwe and Venezuela, need to do
more to comply with the Kimberley Process standards.
"We have problems in Zimbabwe, where the government is cooperating in trying
to put their house in order, and, hopefully, we can resolve the situation,"
Izhakoff told a meeting in Jerusalem that the two countries have asked for
his help to become compliant.
The WDC is expected to send a fact-finding mission to Harare, Friday, to
assess the situation.
But mines minister Amos Midzi told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7
for Zimbabwe, that Harare had complied, and was surprised by the WDC's
In related developments, the magistrate court on Wednesday granted bail to
Adele Farqhar and her husband Michael, the two directors of Bubye Mine,
embroiled in an ownership wrangle with a business group led by retired army
general Solomon Mujuru, husband of Vice President Joyce Mujuru.
The two, who were arrested Monday, were ordered by the court to pay Z$5
million bail each; surrender their passports and the title deeds to their
Bulawayo house valued at more than Z$800-million. The two are also to report
twice weekly at the nearest police station in Bulawayo.
The Farqhars are also not allowed to leave their home until June 4th.
But some ministry officials speaking on condition of anonymity, told VOA
that it is not a coincidence that the Farqhars were arrested at about the
time WDC is set to visit Harare.
They said their tough bail conditions made it difficult for the Farqhars,
who had raised global awareness of Harare's lack of compliance with the
Kimberley Process, to meet with the WDC officials.
The Farqhars claimed that retired general Mujuru, and his consortium, which
has physical control of the mine, had been exporting diamonds in violation
of court orders and without proper certification.
But the state, on the other hand, accused the two of externalizing money and
also selling off company equipment at the Beitbridge diamond mine, despite
the fact that the company had been liquidated.
Bubye mine lawyer, Terrence Hussein, told reporter Blessing Zulu that his
clients had been held under inhospitable conditions while in detention, and
that he had been threatened by River Ranch legal advisor, retired judge
Leslie Smith, who, he said, wrote to the Law Society of Zimbabwe to have him
Smith denied the accusations, and told reporter Blessing Zulu that he only
complained to the Law Society, because Hussein was distorting facts.
By Lance Guma
24 May 2007
Human rights watchdog Amnesty International has released a report showing
the worsening plight of victims of Operation Murambatsvina, the
controversial 2005 so-called 'clean up' exercise that was carried out by the
Mugabe regime. In its 2007 annual report on Zimbabwe, Amnesty said the
situation of thousands of people whose homes were destroyed continued to
worsen without an effective solution being planned by the authorities. Of
concern to the group is the fact that the government continues to obstruct
humanitarian efforts by the United Nations and other NGOs.
Simeon Mawanza a researcher with Amnesty International told our Behind the
Headlines programme that the much hyped government Operation Garika/Hlalani
Kuhle was nothing more than a public relations exercise meant to cover up
the human rights violations of the 'clean up.' The re-housing exercise has
failed to provide housing for the majority of victims with only 3,325 houses
built, compared to 92,460 housing structures destroyed.
Amnesty's report also says construction in many areas appears to have
stopped. Many of the houses designated as "built" are unfinished and have no
access to water or sewage facilities and remain uninhabited. The process of
allocating the new houses, some of which are incomplete, has also been
slammed for lacking transparency. At least 20 per cent of the houses built
have been earmarked for civil servants, police and soldiers according to
Mawanza dismissed government claims the exercise was necessary to clampdown
on criminal activities saying international law was very clear on the need
to provide alternative accommodation if a government sought to undertake
such an exercise. The evictions traumatised victims and resulted in the loss
of property and possessions worth billions of Zimbabwe dollars.
NB. The full interview with Simeon Mawanza can be heard on the programme
Behind the Headlines with Lance Guma. It is also available after broadcast
on our website archives for 2 weeks.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
Thu 24 May 2007, 15:49 GMT
HARARE, May 24 (Reuters) - A Zimbabwe court has postponed the arson trial of
former test batsman Mark Vermeulen so that medical examinations can be
conducted to determine if he is mentally fit to take the stand, his lawyer
said on Thursday.
Vermeulen, 27, was charged late last year with setting fire to the Zimbabwe
cricket academy, which was housed in a thatched building, and the Harare
Sports Club (HSC). They were heavily damaged in the fires.
If convicted, Vermeulen, who has played eight tests and 32 one-day
internationals for Zimbabwe, could face up to 25 years in prison. His trial
was scheduled to start on Thursday.
"He's been remanded to the 15th of June. There are still medical
consultations (on his state of mind) to be done and that has necessitated
the remand," said his lawyer Eric Matinenga.
Vermeulen, who had disciplinary problems during competitions, was granted
Z$500,000 ($2,000 at the official rate but $11 on the black market) bail
last November and ordered to surrender title deeds worth Z$300 million and
travel documents to the court as part of his bail conditions.
May 24 2007 at 04:31PM
Recruits at Zimbabwe's notorious youth camps live in substandard
barracks, get very little food and may be at risk of sexual abuse, a new
report said on Thursday.
Trainees at the National Youth Service camps set up in 2001 supposedly
to instil patriotism in young Zimbabweans frequently go to bed hungry and
are fed a monotonous diet of sadza (corn paste) and beans or cabbage for
lunch, according to a parliamentary report.
Members of parliament, including some from President Robert Mugabe's
ruling Zanu-PF party, toured several National Youth Service camps and
vocational training centres, which are also government- funded.
They were horrified at what they found, said the report, which was
quoted by the independent Financial Gazette newspaper.
It was the first time ruling party members have ventured criticism of
the National Youth Service.
Critics of Mugabe's government have long accused the authorities of
encouraging rights abuses inside National Youth Service camps, alleging that
trainees are brainwashed into beating up opposition supporters.
But Mugabe's officials normally angrily refute the charges. Earlier
this month deputy Youth Minister Saviour Kasukuwere maintained the programme
was a noble idea and said that soon all youths would have to undergo
But the parliamentary report paints a bleak picture of dilapidated
dormitories, minimal rations and for females the fear of sexual abuse.
At one camp, in the southern Matabeleland region, the barracks had no
doors or windows, the report said. Some youths complained they had found
snakes inside the building.
At Kaguvi Vocational Training Centre, MPs heard how one youth had his
arms broken in a scuffle with army personnel over delays in the provision of
There were worrying reports that some female recruits to the National
Youth Service had been sexually abused by male instructors and trainees,
said the Financial Gazette.
The MPs have called for a police investigation into the allegations of
violence. - Sapa-dpa
By Violet Gonda
24 May 2007
Zimbabwean business mogul Mutumwa Mawere is on a warpath with the Mugabe
regime. Currently in the process of fighting for his companies in South
African courts, Mawere on Wednesday took more action by filing an
application in the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom. He said his
companies were taken by force by the Zimbabwe government with no
compensation, and by using draconian measures that were put in place through
a presidential decree. The resilient businessman said the UK has the
jurisdiction to adjudicate in this matter because the businesses that were
nationalized in Zimbabwe belong to two English companies.
Mawere said: "This is an application in the Supreme Court of England and
Wales in which I am asking the court not to recognize the government of
Zimbabwe's agents who are coming before the court (UK) with dirty hands."
The Zimbabwe government is being represented in the UK courts by a nominee
company called AMG Global Nominees. Last year the UK courts ruled in a
preliminary action that AMG was a proxy for the Zimbabwean government. That
case is still pending. The latest case is to do with the constitutionality
of the actions of the Zimbabwean government.
Mawere's business empire was seized by the Mugabe regime in 2004 after he
was accused of externalizing foreign currency. He denies this.
We could not get a comment from the Zimbabwean authorities.
35 of his companies were affected, including his SA companies that were
supplying goods and services to Zimbabwe. Mawere's vast business empire
included Zimbabwe's sole asbestos mining company Shabanie Mashaba Mines,
plus Fidelity Life Insurance, ZIMRE Holdings, CFI Holdings and First Bank.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
Published 28 May 2007
In what circumstances would Oxfam's head choose to speak plainly, even if
telling the truth endangered famine relief?
Oxfam was founded in 1942 to bring aid to the oppressed of Nazi Europe, a
cause that didn't make it popular with the Churchill government. After the
Germans occupied Greece, the Royal Navy blocked the shipping lanes. Food and
medicines couldn't get through to civilians, and famine set in. Lifting the
blockade might have helped the starving, but Whitehall wondered whether food
meant for the hungry wouldn't end up in the bellies of German troops
instead, and gazed with some disdain on the new lobbyists.
The founders of the Oxford Committee for Famine Relief were stereotypical
members of the great and the good: bishops, academics, retired teachers and
Quaker philanthropists, all of whom have been at the forefront of liberal
causes for generations, and the butt of satirists for just as long. In Bleak
House, Dickens gave us Mrs Jellyby, who had "very good hair but was too much
occupied with her African duties to brush it", and was so obsessed with
bringing edu cation and coffee cultivation to "the natives of
Borrioboola-Gha, on the left bank of the Niger" that her neglected daughter
declared: "I wish Africa was dead! I do! Don't talk to me, Miss Summerson. I
hate it and detest it. It's a beast!"
Yet Churchill's coalition government found it no easier than its successors
to dismiss the new charity. Mock if you like, implied Gilbert Murray, Regius
professor of Greek at Oxford, founder of Oxfam and friend of half the worthy
causes of the mid-20th century, but "be careful in dealing with a man who
cares nothing for comfort or promotion, but is simply determined to do what
he believes to be right". Murray was better at predicting the power of
organised conscience than Dickens. The ad hoc response to the Greek famine
turned into the most visible charity on the high street. It was infused with
the amateur air English liberals adopt when they go out in the world to do
good. The first head office was in a cramped room above the original Oxfam
shop in Broad Street in the city centre; the second in a dingy parade of
shops in Victorian north Oxford.
The tweeds and piles of dusty pamphlets are gone now. Under the leadership
of Barbara Stocking, Oxfam has moved to a huge HQ at a new business park on
the edge of town. Old hands find the identikit postmodern box with its
dispiriting views of traffic jammed on the ring road soulless, and I saw why
when I got there. This might be the head office of any corporation in any
ribbon development anywhere in the industrialised world. Once inside,
however, there's no denying the efficiency of the place. Charity workers sit
in an open- plan office the size of a football pitch. Neat shelving units
hold research papers, while a GM-free, organic, fair-trade canteen offers
succour when they need a break from rescuing Africa.
The businesslike atmosphere reflects the personality of the director.
Stocking is a former regional director of the NHS who, according to rumour,
was in the running for the top job. Corporate cant litters her talk -
"making a difference", "meeting the challenge" and all the rest of it - but
it would be a mistake to see her as another empty suit. The charitable world
is notoriously uncharitable, but I couldn't find a director of a rival
charity with a bad word to say about her. Her own staff describe her as an
honest and popular manager.
Above all, she is a success. Under her leadership, turnover has hit £300m.
Oxfam now has more than 750 shops in the UK, 6,000 staff all over the world
and sister organisations in 13 countries. Oxfam officials have gone from the
charity into government and helped make new Labour the most charitable
administration ever. Tony Blair and Gordon Brown were the "Lennon and
McCartney" of poverty reduction, cried an approving Bono, and if you can
forgive the cheesy comparison, you can see his point. I would be
exaggerating if I said that aid was a major political issue in Britain, but
it matters more to voters here than in any other European country.
The annus mirabilis for Oxfam was 2005, when Blair and Brown pushed for the
G8 nations to agree to an extraordinary programme of debt relief and
subsidies for Africa, Live 8 played Hyde Park, and the Asian tsunami
provoked an outburst of altruism. "It was a time that people recognised that
we are part of the global world," Stocking remembers with a warm smile. "For
the first time, the new horizons of travel and the net came together and
made people realise that if we're going to live happily in the global world
we're going to have to make it better."
I wasn't as convinced then and am less so now. Even at the peak of Make
Poverty History's campaign, you didn't have to be a Telegraph-reading Tory
to think the aid movement was taking a wrong turn. It presented a picture of
a world as much the white man's to direct as it was at the apogee of the
European empires. No one told the audience at Live 8 that Africa had
nepotistic dictators in power or kleptomaniac families in office. They
stayed silent about genocidal movements and spy-ridden regimes. All that was
needed to rescue Africa from poverty was for the developed world to agree
more aid, fairer trade and debt relief and - poof! -the suffering would end.
Two years on, the neocolonialist view hasn't been shaken. A recent Oxfam
study of global warming says, truthfully, that pollution from the rich world
will hurt the poor world, but fails to ask how Africa can develop without
increasing its output of greenhouse gases. A report on foreign policy says,
again rightly, that the Iraq war has made humanitarian intervention harder
to justify, but it makes no condemnation of Ba'athist and Islamist
"insurgents", nor does it offer solidarity to their victims. A report in
advance of this summer's G8 summit condemns rich governments for failing to
honour promises made in 2005, but assumes the problems of the world are the
fault of the west and, by converse, that the remedies lie in western hands.
The usual justification for lopsided vision is that pressure groups can best
influence their own governments. A demonstration in London against the
massacres in Darfur will have no influence on the regime in Khartoum, but a
march to demand that the British government commit more money to, say,
education in Africa might. If double standards and myopia follow, then so be
it. What matters is what works. But the easy ride given to Oxfam, Christian
Aid and the other aid charities overlooks a structural problem. The aid
charities are hybrids with incompatible aims. On the one hand, they provide
relief regardless of the political consequences - like the Red Cross - and,
on the other, they lobby for political change - like Human Rights Watch. As
Amartya Sen showed, dem ocracies don't have famines. The great hungers of
the past hundred years were presided over by colonial administrators,
communist tyrants and, today, African nationalists and gangsters.
Dictatorships do not as a rule tolerate censure from anyone inside their
borders. Therefore, if Oxfam were to speak out against the obscenity of
Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe being elected to head the UN Commission on
Sustainable Development, there's a fair chance Mugabe would stop Oxfam
workers from relieving the suffering inflicted by his economically
unsustainable regime. Its hybrid status means Oxfam has to direct
disapproval at governments that won't respond to criticism by closing down
Oxfam operations, but, rather, will invite Stocking in for a chat and a cup
Stocking has the strength of character to face hard questions candidly. In
Darfur, I said, Oxfam is feeding 600,000 refugees on the Chadian border. Is
that why it refuses to call the Darfuri genocide "genocide"?
"It is a dilemma for us," she said. "We think we've got to save lives today
while trying to get the international com munity to sort out the bigger
problem. Now we will do our absolute utmost to go to the edge of that. We
will try to give as much information out, but not in ways that are
challenging to the Khartoum government."
I asked if she could imagine circumstances in which Oxfam would choose to
speak plainly, even if telling the truth en dangered famine relief. There
were two, she replied. First, if charitable aid was a "sticking plaster"
that allowed the international community to feel that conditions in, say,
Darfur were not so bad. Second, if aid was keeping an oppressive government
in power, as may soon be the case in Zimbabwe.
I suggested that a better policy would be to help African progressives set
their countries free by championing their causes and highlighting the crimes
of their oppressors. If I'd confessed to stealing second-hand books from my
local Oxfam, she couldn't have been more shocked. "No, no, that's not our
mandate. We want to offer a way out of poverty that makes them feel they
have economic opportunity and provides them with a right to be heard. It's
not our job to help groupings that want to overthrow their governments."
She sounded reasonable as she marked out her limits, but I was left
wondering how long the aid charities could stay in British politics while
staying out of African politics. The strongest criticism she would make of
governments in the poor world was that some of them were corrupt. But the
trouble with Africa is not that its post-colonial elites are corrupt - there
are corrupt governments all over the world - it is that they are
unpatriotic. From Côte d'Ivoire to Zimbabwe, post-colonial rulers have shown
that they would prefer to bring the roof down on their wretched peoples
rather than let the opposition challenge their power.
A thought experiment shows future dangers for Oxfam. Suppose the G8 meets
all its 2005 promises. Suppose the World Trade Organisation stops the rich
world subsidising its farmers. Then suppose that nothing changes or, as Sen
would predict, that change for the better comes only in those countries
already on the path to accountable politics. Would Oxfam be able to rouse
governments and publics for another Live 8? Or would governments and publics
echo young Miss Jellyby and say that Africa was a beast?
At its birth, Oxfam had to decide whether destroying tyranny was more
important than relieving immediate suffering, and 65 years on it seems no
closer to an answer.
I asked Stocking if she expected to see Africa break away from the demeaning
need for other people's charity by the time we both retired. Yes, she
replied. Absolutely. Look at the strides made in combating poverty in India.
The naysayers said change was impossible, but it happened, for all their
sneers. I forgot about the question and moved on, but it evidently niggled
away. As I left, she corrected herself: "Perhaps not by the time we retire,
but maybe before we die."